Nested in a little nook amidst the glimmering towers of the Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) is Crystal Jade Prestige—a fresh concept from the stalwart group of restaurants that gracefully balances the charm of exclusivity with a welcoming accessibility. A dedicated elevator at MBFC’s drop-off point brings you straight into the restaurant, whereupon you are warmly greeted and guided to your seat. Framed by tall glass windows, the dining area feels spacious and yet nicely private.
As it was, graceful balance seems to also characterize the plates at Crystal Jade Prestige. Deep fried scallop with salted egg yolk and chilled organic tomato served with avocado sauce (S$20) makes for a satisfyingly savoury start to the meal; sea-sweet Hokkaido scallop is encased in a crisp golden shell that shatters lightly into shards of salted egg crust. The salted egg scallop is good all on its own, but the avocado sauce lends a layer of complementary richness that’s itself lifted by cool cubes of tomato.
Roasted baby suckling pig rolled with black truffle pearl rice (S$20 per piece, S$168 for half or S$328 for a whole pig) is a picture of elegance, a perfect cylinder of pork and grains contrasted against the length of its serving plate. The dish is conceptually interesting indeed—truffle hogs have after all been the traditional method of choice when searching for such fragrant buried treasure. Beyond its metaphorical intrigue, the dish is sufficiently tasty with a subtle fragrant earthiness, although the crackling seemed a little tougher than might be desired.
Double-boiled morel mushroom & bamboo pith soup (S$18) comes served in a young coconut that, beyond being just all round good-looking, also contributes a delicate sweetness and aroma to the dish. The coconut flesh is soft and sweet as well, bringing everything together in an addictively comforting broth. Drifting languidly in the soup are morel mushrooms and bamboo pith that provide depth and crunch that enliven an already accomplished soup.
Tea-smoked roasted duck (S$78 for whole duck) has a remarkable smokiness from pu-er tea leaves that once again demonstrates Crystal Jade Prestige’s attention to balance—the scent of tea smoke is just discernable enough to bring complexity, and yet not so aggressive that it overpowers the natural taste of the duck. Lying patiently under the crisp skin is meat that is moist, tender and very amenable to being rolled in the homemade wrapping skins.
Pan-fried beancurd with black truffle sauce (S$8.80); cast in a distinctive charcoal tone, the beancurd is robed in a velvety truffle sauce and adorned with a crown of mushrooms. It is meaty, savoury and full all at once—a demonstration of how the richness of umami can be concentrated into a simple yet compelling dish.
Pan-fried minced fish noodle with scallop (S$12) has a texture that came quite as a surprise, for while it looked like it might have ended up dense and starchy, the noodles were in fact the very opposite—springy and with excellent bite. The secret’s in the minced fish, which gives the noodles a lightness and flavour that you would not typically associate with noodles. This is a great option for those who crave for noodles but fear the post-lunch slump that tends to accompany it.
Trio dessert on ice (S$14.50) is an assortment of mango puree with pomelo & sago, aloe vera with lemongrass jelly, and black sesame paste with coconut milk. Arriving in an elaborate ice bed display, this is a dish which appears to have lots of promise but which unfortunately fails to really deliver. It’s not that the trio was in any way bad; each of the three was fairly decent individually, but they were not exactly collectively compelling. Given the rather hefty price tag, I’d give this one a miss.
Deep-fried durian ice cream with mango puree (S$8.50) on the other hand, is an absolute star. A crisp crust coats a creamy durian interior that is bathed in a luscious mango puree. Chunks of mango and strawberry add textural variety to the dish, which somehow manages to be refreshing and yet indulgent all at the same time. Plated in a very generous portion, this dessert can easily be shared between two, although you might want to decide on sharing arrangements before you get to the dish—it’s really quite hard to stop digging in once you’ve started. Easily the best dessert of the day, I’d visit the restaurant just to get a taste of this. Rumour has it that daily stocks of durian are limited though, so it’s probably best to ask ahead should you be looking out for this one.
Whether or not you’re a regular around Crystal Jade Prestige, as one of the newfound culinary discoveries around the area and with so many unique offerings on the menu, it’s hard to resist making that little trip down and joining in on the fun.
|Crystal Jade Prestige|
|8A Marina Boulevard
Marina Bay Financial Centre (Ground Plaza)
11.30am to 3pm (Mon to Fri)
11am to 3.30pm (Sat, Sun and PH)6pm to 10.30pm Daily